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As delightful as the deer on the side of the road may be, Bambi and his friends create dicey situations on the road. The German motor vehicle insurance companies counted around 238,000 accidents with wildlife in 2014, an average of almost 650 per day - or in other words: every two and a half minutes in Germany a car collides with a wild animal! The average game damage: 2400 euros.
Several deaths a year
This is where the dangers are greatest
In principle, accidents with wildlife can happen anywhere and anytime. But the danger of encountering a wild animal on the road is particularly high ...
• ... on known animal paths, which are usually marked with the appropriate warning signs.
• ... along the edges of fields and at forest borders and on newly built roads through the forest that the game is not yet familiar with.
•… during dawn and dusk, as the animals are particularly active here. Especially on the days of the time change at the end of March, when the morning rush hour suddenly falls back into the twilight phase.
• ... during the rutting season, as the lovable wild animals are often less shy. However, the rutting season differs from animal to animal.
•… in April, as the animals are increasingly looking for food again after the winter.
•… in October, as visibility is already reduced due to the earlier onset of darkness and many animals are already looking for winter quarters.
•… generally in the dark season or at night, as the animals feel safe and are also less likely to be seen.
How do you avoid a wildlife accident?
Accidents involving wildlife can only be avoided, if at all, by paying more attention and reducing speed. Especially those who are on roads that expressly warn of deer crossing should take these signs seriously and reduce their speed. At 80 km / h the braking distance is around 55 meters - anything above is usually not enough to stop in front of an animal suddenly jumping onto the road.
What to do if an animal appears on the side of the road?
Anyone who sees an animal on the side of the road or even on the road at some distance should brake immediately in a controlled manner in order to reduce the impact speed in the worst case. Even at 60 km / h a wild boar with around 3.5 tons collides with the car - that's roughly the equivalent of a rhinoceros! You should also:
• Stopping down, because the glaring high beam makes the animals disoriented.
• Horns to drive the animal off the road in time.
Tip: Where one animal appears, there are usually several more. Therefore, you should always expect latecomers and drive on even more slowly!
When the accident is inevitable
If a large animal such as a deer or wild boar is standing on the road and a collision can no longer be avoided, you have to brake hard and hold the steering wheel. In no case should you avoid it! In an emergency, a controlled impact is better than an uncontrolled evasive maneuver in which the car skids and may end up at the next tree or in oncoming traffic. Experts assume that such evasive maneuvers are often the cause of around one thousand fatal collisions with a tree in Germany every year!
No emergency braking for small animals
Anyone who slams on the brakes because of a small animal, for example a rabbit, hedgehog or fox, and causes a rear-end collision, is often complicit. For the legislature, this is a forbidden, groundless emergency braking. It is even worse if you avoid a small animal: the insurance companies often do not cover the damage caused by it! Incidentally, it is different when you are out and about on a motorcycle. Even colliding with a rabbit can bring the machine and driver down. If the braking distance is not sufficient to come to a stop in front of the animal, bikers should rather avoid them - this, however, requires routine and good training!
What to do if there is a crash?
• If a collision was unavoidable, the first thing to do is to secure the scene of the accident (hazard warning lights, warning triangle) and take care of the injured or call emergency services (dial 112).
• The wildlife accident must be reported to the police and / or the local hunter, unless it involves small animals such as hedgehogs or frogs.
• Because of the risk of infection (for example rabies), a dead animal should only be handled with gloves and pulled to the side of the road.
• Do not touch injured animals, they could defend themselves. Instead, keep your distance so that the stress for the animal does not become even greater. The hunter takes care of injured animals! He also tracks down an animal that has fled.
• You must never take the dead animal with you, otherwise you are guilty of poaching!
• Anyone who simply drives on and leaves the animal behind without notification is also a violation of the Animal Welfare Act and is liable to prosecution.
• For wildlife damage insurance, you have to have the wildlife accident confirmed by the police or the hunter - this may be subject to a charge. In order to document the accident as a wildlife accident, photos can also be helpful. Also: write down the names and addresses of accident witnesses.
Who pays in the event of a wildlife accident?
Liability insurance covers damage to crash barriers and other vehicles or other damage on the hunting tenant's premises. Damage to your own car, on the other hand, is covered by comprehensive insurance. The partially comprehensive insurance only pays if the damage is proven. As a rule, the wildlife accident certificate from the hunter or the police is sufficient for insurance. Nevertheless, you should also take evidence photos on site, both of the animal itself and of any traces of blood, fur or feathers on the vehicle. In addition, the partial coverage only applies to damage caused by wild animals. These include:
• Red deer, fallow deer and roe deer, for example roe deer and deer
• Wild boar, such as wild boar
• Rabbits, foxes, martens and the like
• European bison, elk
• Otters and seals
Pheasants, chickens or cows, on the other hand, are not included, and accidents with pets are not covered by the partially comprehensive insurance. Here you have to contact the owner.
tip: Some insurance companies extend their game damage clause and also include other animal species - in some cases for a fee.
Partial insurance does not always pay for evasive maneuvers
If the driver also evades a small animal such as a rabbit and damage occurs, the partial comprehensive insurance also often does not pay, as the damage from the impact would usually have been less than from the evasive maneuver. From the size of a wild boar, for example, damage caused by evasive maneuvers is easily regulated - but you can still endanger your life by tearing the steering wheel in an uncontrolled manner!
Fully comprehensive always pays
You are fully covered with fully comprehensive insurance. It always pays for the damage to your own car, regardless of which animal it happened with and whether the driver avoided it. This even applies if the driver cannot prove the accident with wildlife. However, the no-claims bonus will of course decrease in the following year.
Is the hunter entitled to compensation?
At the regulars' table you often hear that the responsible hunting tenant has to pay for the damage - this is wrong, since game is ownerless. But the hunter also has the other way around - apart from any damage caused to his property by the accident – no claim for damages for the killed or injured animal. He is also not allowed to charge a fee for removing the carcass! However, anyone who does not report the accident and thus risks spoiling the game that the hunter might have used, must compensate for this damage.
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